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Stressful case over fired Pinay maid reset

17 November 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

The Labour Tribunal in Yau Ma Tei
It must have been the most stressful hearing Labour Tribunal presiding officer David Chan had ever held.
After three unexpected breaks
and a few nerve-wracking moments, Chan finally got a female employer from the mainland to settle two of six claims by the Filipina maid she dismissed.
The claims awarded initially to Joenalyn Mallorca were for arrears in wages totaling $1,824.37 and airline ticket worth $1,300.
But this is just the beginning. Mallorca will see more of her former employer, Ng Me Shuen, when her four other claims totaling $8,707.33 are tried on Feb. 2 next year.
Aside from her unpaid wages and return air ticket, Mallorca had claimed for one month’s salary in lieu of notice, annual leave pay, food allowance and damages.     
She said Ng fired her on Sept 15, after just three months of working for the employer.
When Chan asked Ng why she did not want to pay the claims, she appeared to have difficulty understanding the question.
Ng’s husband tried to speak for her, but Chan chided him, saying he could not participate in the discussions. When the husband butted in again, Chan warned him: “You are not a party to the case. You are allowed to come to the court and listen, but you must not take part in the discussions. If there is something she (Ng) doesn’t understand then she must ask me.”
Ng complained she could not understand the Cantonese of her court interpreter, prompting Chan to call for a break until a Putonghua interpreter was found.
When the hearing resumed, the employer interrupted Chan, her interpreter or the claimant a few times that she was rebuked by the presiding officer.
Ng refused to pay the helper one month’s salary in lieu of notice and $100 food allowance, and said she would seek legal aid.
“No, you’re not allowed to get legal aid in this tribunal,” Chan said.
Ng then brought up an incident when she and her daughter had allegedly suffered from scalp irritation and dizziness from a shampoo that might have been “contaminated” by the helper.
She said she called the police and four or five officers came but refused to take up the case, and instead told her to find a laboratory and have the shampoo tested by a chemist.
Ng said she did so but no laboratory agreed to do the test, so she threw away the shampoo bottle, adding “anyway, the helper said sorry”.
Chan asked Ng repeatedly if the shampoo incident was the reason she dismissed Mallorca, and the employer replied there were other reasons, like the towel and clothes the helper washed still had soap bubbles.
Ng said Mallorca had wanted to be fired so she kept doing things that irritated her.
Chan replied that if it were a trap, she had fallen into it by terminating the helper, and then refusing to pay her claims.
The presiding officer then asked Mallorca why she was seeking damages and the maid said it was for breach of trust.
Chan also asked about the Filipina’s claim that Ng had slapped her and the maid said that the shampoo was the reason.
At this point Ng interrupted Mallorca’s statement, causing Chan to rebuke her” “Again, Madam, this is a court. This is not a restaurant or a market. Please don’t interrupt the claimant anymore.”
The presiding officer eventually asked the two reach a settlement, otherwise the case would go to trial. But they only agreed on the settlement of the two claims, so the rest of would have to be tried at the next hearing.
Outside the courtroom, Ng’s husband approached Mallorca and said: “I must tell you. If you think you can get anymore money from her, you’re wasting you time. She won’t give you (any).”
Then the couple walked away.  
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